Trainer for Braves thankful for support

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Atlanta Braves head athletic trainer Jeff Porter broke down in tears several times as he talked about his wife’s death in an auto accident on New Year’s Eve and the outpouring of support he has felt since.

The veteran trainer spoke Friday with his 19-year-old son David at his side. They wore matching blue bracelets that read, “Celebrate Kathy Porter’s life. Forever in our hearts.”

“You find out a lot about other people’s hearts,” said Porter, still overwhelmed by the support offered from those in and out of baseball.

Kathy, Porter’s wife of nearly 28 years, was killed when a Georgia State Patrol cruiser slammed into the family’s sports utility vehicle at an Atlanta intersection not far from Turner Field as the family was going to see Auburn play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Getting to spring training, which meant a return to his annual routine, helped emotionally as Porter tried to deal with his grief. Best yet was a visit this week from his son, David, on spring break from college.

“It was very good medicine for me,” said Porter, who was driving when his wife was killed.

Porter, David and his girlfriend, Courtney Ann Williams, escaped serious injury. However, 54-year-old Kathy Porter was killed when the SUV hit a utility pole.

Trooper Donald Crozier, who had a history of wrecks, was fired by the Georgia State Patrol and legal action remains pending. Porter, 56, wouldn’t say if he was considering a civil action.

Bobby Cox, Fredi Gonzalez, Brian McCann and many others from the Braves rushed to the hospital after the accident. Dr. Joe Chandler, a long-time Braves physician, continues to be a constant comfort, Porter said.

The Braves’ home opener at Turner Field is April 13 against Milwaukee . That will be another reminder of his wife’s absence.

“I don’t remember them missing one,” said Porter, looking at his son. “That will be tough.”

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